Proteas set sights on England

2012-03-29 07:48
Gary Kirsten (File)

Johannesburg - Proteas coach Gary Kirsten will now start "preparing, planning and strategising" for the series away to top-ranked Test nation England after the South Africa's successful tour of New Zealand.

South Africa won in all formats against the Black Caps, and Kirsten said "we are excited about where we are going" ahead of a three-Test contest in July and August between Test cricket's top two teams.

South Africa play in England and then Australia this year in the toughest challenges yet for the new Proteas coach, who took over in 2011 after guiding India to the World Cup title.

It was "mission accomplished" in New Zealand, Kirsten said, on his squad's return home on Wednesday.

"I think this (New Zealand) tour has really taught us about our team and what their strengths are and what are the areas we want to work at," Kirsten said. "Our bowling was outstanding throughout the three Test matches. They've proved as a bowling unit they are a world-class outfit, so I was very excited about that.

"England in England is tough opposition ... but we are all looking forward to that Test series."

Captain Graeme Smith added that South Africa would have to adapt to the "big pressures" of touring England in what's likely to be the last trip there for him and fellow veterans Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.

The Proteas won away in England and Australia in a carbon-copy season in 2008-09.

"We know we can to do it, we've done it before," Smith said. "Being able to adapt to the pressures of big Test cricket in those countries, big crowds that are against you, big media presence. Playing under that sort of pressure is the key to winning in those countries."

Smith also didn't take too much from top-ranked England's apparent dip in form in the five-day format. Andrew Strauss's team suffered a 3-0 series loss to Pakistan in United Arab Emirates and has made a poor start in Sri Lanka.

"By the time we get there they (England) will have played a lot of competitive cricket, they will have a lot of cricket under their belt," Smith said. "Having been to England twice I know it is a real tough place to go and win.

"It will be a very big tour ... a big challenge for us."

Smith is on course to equal Australian Allan Border's record for the number of Tests (93) as captain in the England series, where the Proteas skipper will also likely play his 100th Test.

Boucher is set to be the first wicketkeeper to 1 000 international dismissals - he's currently on 999 - and should play his 150th Test in what's shaping as a landmark series for South Africa's old guard.

Read more on:    proteas  |  graeme smith  |  gary kirsten  |  cricket

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